Mother in law troubles
Lately, I’ve begun to be given a lot of emails about in laws (particularly mothers and sisters in law) who the author perceives is “attempting to destroy my marriage” or “attempting to drive a wedge between my spouse and myself.” Often, the writer (which is generally a woman) will tell me that the mother in law never liked her, hasn’t accepted her, and will never pass up any opportunity to cause trouble or to produce the husband chose sides or to stir up some issue that will create tension and drama.
This is a challenging situation. Your husband didn’t choose his parents, like it or not, he’s stuck with them. I mean, you can certainly divorce your partner and not be legally tied to them, but your immediate family (and especially the woman who had you) is yours forever. Add that to the fact that many moms will cling onto their mature sons as though he is as accountable to her as her own husband and there is most definitely a recipe for conflict there. I’ll offer tips and suggestions on how to best handle this at the following article.
It’s hard to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes when you’re being attacked. However, it’s so important to remember that your husband is the person who’s caught in the middle. His mother will likely find any breaking away on his role as a betrayal. That’s not to say he does not have a responsibility to you – he does – and I will discuss that more below. But, you need to do your part also. Before you make any requests of him, think about how you’d want him to react if the roles were reversed. Wouldn’t you want for him to try to let this roll off his back rather than becoming angry with you and demanding that you place your own mother in her place?
Don’t play right into her hand. What she really doesn’t want if for you to go about your business completely happy and unaffected by her matches. So, this is just what you want to happen, of course. Your best defense against her is a happy husband who’s oblivious to all this drama. If he is happy at home, then he isn’t likely to obey her criticisms or even to pay attention. This is your goal.
Thus, remain lighthearted when she is flinging her barbs. Act as though she’s literally joking. You want to let her know that you are laughing her off and that her attempts to hurt you are not just missing the mark, but are giving you something to be entertained by. My aunt used to tell me to “kill with kindness.” This is great advice in this situation. The meaner she receives, the more you should smile. This will annoy her more than anything. If you get angry and have a negative reaction, then she has won that hand. But if you smile and then dismiss her, this is going to make her very disappointed. And, if you keep up this game, she simply eventually might quit playing.
Creating A United Front With Compromise: Up until today, I have been asking you to do all the giving, but it is not asking too much to ask your husband to set some boundaries also. However, it’s not unreasonable to ask him to put some limits. You’re a family too now and you may want to spend some holidays alone or together with your family. You may not want to have Sunday dinner at her home each and every week. There is a happy medium in all these situations. It is not fair to ask him to make extreme changes but there’s nothing wrong with cutting back. This gives every one at least some of what they need.
Understand what your very best case scenario is. I am betting that you want for your own family to be a priority and to be joyful. And, you probably want your husband to be happy with no unnecessary stress regarding your or his family. In truth, you can’t control how your mother in law or your in laws act or what they need from him. But, what you can control is your reaction to it. You can command your own immediate family. So, try to keep him happy as home as you can and limit your negative contact with the in-laws as far as possible by placing limits.
At the end of the day, you have to remember that it’s your job to safeguard your own happiness and well being. Do not let her (or them) get to you and affect your happiness. They wish to whittle away at your family? Make sure they know your family is so strong and deeply connected they’re simply wasting their time. Respect your husband can not picked or force his family to act. You can not control others. Nevertheless, you can control yourself and your reactions to them. Always make sure that these reactions are in the best interest of your own family, not theirs.
Unfortunately for me, I played right into my mom in Animal Control. In this way, she got exactly what she wanted and it put a lot of stress on the marriage until we eventually separated. We finally worked things out, but it was much more work (and considerably more painful) than it should have been.